Talent trumps technology as CEOs biggest business concern

From call centres to the CEO’s office, the future of work is already here. Whether it’s the rising importance of social media, the growth in artificial intelligence or the role of virtual reality, technology is changing our working life and dominating much of our business conversation.

According to Price Waterhouse Cooper’s annual survey of CEOs around the world, business leaders rank technological change as a key focus. Almost three quarters of British CEO’s say technology will significantly impact or even reshape competition over next five years, a view that is shared at a global level in countries including Germany and the US. Many business leaders taking artificial intelligence (AI) seriously, too, with more than 52 per cent of the CEOs surveyed currently exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together.

But while technology is making the headlines, it’s the ability to recruit talented people that is proving the biggest concern. When ranking the business threats facing their organisation, 83 per cent of UK CEOs are most worried about how to recruit staff with key skills, as are 88 per cent in China and 82 per cent in the US.

The PWC report says: “UK CEOs are looking to expand and develop their workforces but they’re worried about getting the skills they’ll need to drive future growth.”

For many years, business objectives and management philosophies have focused on efficiency. But efficient deployment of technology and capital can’t deliver success on its own. Talented staff are vital and today there’s a rising level of concern over how companies can find the best people and a growing recognition that talent is scarce and worth fighting for.

Finding and keeping the best talent:

1) Focus on the jobs that will survive into the future.

Some work will be eliminated through automation, digitalisation, or the virtualisation of jobs but these same forces also create new roles. Focus on identifying the key skills and roles you’ll need in future and finding the right people to fill them.

2) Recruiting the right people

When choosing talent, assess not just the person’s skills and experience but also whether the candidate has values and aspirations that match your own. Spend time understanding your culture and work with recruitment specialists who will take your values and decision-making process into account and who take the time to understand your policies, structure, reward system and working environment and find the type of people who thrive there.

3) Recognise and reward talent and energy

Finding the right people is the first challenge, motivating them to stay is the next. The job for life is over but companies need to keep their best talent for as long as possible. Build strong career paths and work hard every day to retain key staff by creating a work environment that is inspiring and results oriented.

4) Invest in human capital just like you invest in financial capital

The most direct and obvious investment in people is through higher wages. But other forms of investment can also help, from education and training to benefits such as healthcare and holidays or simply the time and space to explore new ideas and professional development. Eric Garton and Michael Mankins are the authors of Time, Talent and Energy, a book that looks at how the best companies manage talent. They found that investments in staff pay back, with the top 25 per cent of the companies in their study being 40 per cent more productive through better practices in staff management.

5) Reward good management of talent

Leaders are often measured on financial results but their skills in inspiring people and in recruiting, developing and retaining high-potential individuals are equally important and should be rewarded.

If you would like to discuss doing talent aquisition differently call us on 01883 722008 or email nici@talentgateway.net.

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